Northern tourism boards launch new NatWest Tourism Business Barometer

As towns and cities across the north of England reopen their economies subject to some temporary local restrictions, a contingent of tourism boards have come together to launch a new fortnightly business barometer which will measure the UK post-lockdown tourism business environment including shifts in employment, trends in revenue and overall business confidence.

Led by Marketing Manchester, nine tourism boards – otherwise known as Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) and including Cumbria Tourism, Make It York, Marketing Cheshire, Marketing Lancashire, Marketing Liverpool, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Visit County Durham and Visit Leeds – are involved and have agreed to recruit panel members* from within the tourism economy that will consistently participate in a survey.

The survey is supported and funded by NatWest and will run for three months until the end of October. The first set of responses have been received, revealing several key take-outs which will now form a benchmark to report against every fortnight**.

Amongst the overall take-outs is that 9 in 10 businesses have reported that they are currently trading with a revenue loss on 2019, with over half of businesses reporting a revenue loss of 75%. 87% of businesses also reported a reduced level of advanced bookings for October to December on what they had on the books at this point in 2019.

Some of the more interesting discoveries are revealed when comparing urban and rural areas across the north of England. City-based businesses, for example, are more likely to report revenue losses with NewcastleGatehead (75%), Leeds (70%), Manchester (68%) and Liverpool (63%) all reporting significantly higher levels than the average for the North (51%). Cities also tend to have the lowest business confidence in returning to pre-COVID revenue levels, with some city-based businesses believing such levels may not be reached until January 2023 or beyond, whilst businesses in County Durham, Cumbria and Lancashire in contrast all expect revenue recovery to come sooner.

Green shoots can potentially be seen for advanced booking for trips due to take place between January and March 2021 with businesses in four areas of the North showing increased bookings for the period compared to this point in 2019. This does, however, need to be carefully watched within the barometer as it may be that these additional bookings include postponed bookings that have been rescheduled as well as long-standing bookings that may not go ahead.

Sheona Southern, Managing Director at Marketing Manchester said: “This new business barometer is an essential piece of work for not only tracking how businesses are emerging from lockdown and into a new environment, but also analysing what contrasting or complementary trends are developing in different areas across the north of England.

“At this point the tourism industry across the North is slowly building back business, albeit at different and with a marked difference between urban and rural areas. We’re acutely aware of this in Greater Manchester where temporary local restrictions have come in over the weekend and therefore over the coming weeks and months this barometer is going to be essential in helping us to intimately understand how things change across the region, in a way that many other surveys and barometers cannot.

“Furthermore, the frequency of the surveys and consistency of panel members means that the DMOs involved all have access to incredibly valuable information that we can use to improve the services we offer our partners and members.

“All nine DMOs are running recovery campaigns at the moment and it is going to be especially important that we have evidence to support any nuanced developments within our individual campaigns as well as intel that could help us to better support each other across the North and potentially align our work with powerful joint messaging.”

Richard Topliss, Regional Managing Director for NatWest Commercial Banking in the North of England, commented: “Without question, tourism plays a key part in many local economies across the North of England. After a period of closure and the possibility of future disruption, there is understandably a long way to go before businesses in the sector see turnover recover to pre-COVID levels. However the agility and creativity of many in the sector is inspirational, and whilst the picture is variable, there are pockets of best practice starting to emerge, and I hope the NatWest Tourism Barometer will highlight these and provide encouragement for all as the market recovers.”

The first edition of the NatWest Tourism Business Barometer can be viewed here and new updates will be added fortnightly.


Notes to editors

* The criteria for panel members is that they must be offering an onsite service to the public, even if not all previous services have reopened.
** The panel is due to run each fortnight from the first panel’s deadline of 21 July to the end of October, using the following schedule:

Panel editionDeadline for response
Fortnight 1 (F1) – Tuesday 21 July
Fortnight 2 (F2) – Tuesday 04 August
Fortnight 3 (F3) – Tuesday 18 August
Fortnight 4 (F4) – Tuesday 02 September
Fortnight 5 (F5) – Tuesday 15 September
Fortnight 6 (F6) – Tuesday 29 September
Fortnight 7 (F7) – Tuesday 13 October
Fortnight 8 (F8) – Tuesday 27 October

For images of destinations across the north of England, click here.

About Marketing Manchester
As part of The Growth Company, Marketing Manchester promotes Greater Manchester on the national and international stage to key sectors including; media, digital and tech; science; advanced manufacturing; financial and professional services; culture; and sport. Marketing Manchester also incorporates the official tourism board Visit Manchester and the Manchester Convention Bureau. For more information, please visit:

About NatWest
NatWest serves customers in England and Wales, supporting them with their personal, private, and business banking needs. NatWest helps customers at all stages in their lives, from opening student accounts, to buying their first home, setting up a business, and saving for retirement. Alongside a wide range of banking services, NatWest offers businesses specialist sector knowledge in areas such as manufacturing and technology, as well as access to specialist entrepreneurial support.

For further information, please contact:

Andy Parkinson
Senior Communications Manager, Marketing Manchester
Tel: 07789988741